From Beyond the Fold

In the time before, before the camps and before the fall of civilisation, it is known that beings managed to push through into our world, across the fold, across the river of dream and into our world. While the first, the so called Nomads, who came through were careful those that followed were not so. There they experienced the physical for the first time and were overcome by it - the sensations of the body were heaven and hell to them, and they revelled in it. They found within the freedom of movement between the orbs of spirit and body a full understanding and experience of something they called 'The Seed' - they danced freely from human body to human body, from flesh to flesh, from carnage to carnage. Then those first, those Nomads, closed the Fold, forever trapping the Z'bri in one body, in one flesh and denying them true access to the Seed.

And so began their agony.

From here began the age of the camps. The herding of humanity under Z'bri dominion for them to exercise their power upon. For before the fold was closed, the Z'bri could experience the ecstasy of the Seed through their movement through humanity. With the fold closed their desire to access The Seed only grew and yet was denied and so they found ways to touch it, momentarily, through their manipulations of humanity.

And so began humanity's agony

They say the nomads returned once more since then, at the liberation, teaching humanity how to bring forth the Fatima's. Showing humanity a path to the river of dream through the incarnations of the goddess. The Nomads disappeared without trace. The Z'bri lost much of humanity to what became the Tribes along with the death of their leader Tibor at the hands of the Fatima Joshua (although he too died in the battle). Meanwhile the Tribes began to reclaim their humanity for themselves.

The Order to the chaos

The Z'bri, while monstrous, are not without their own organisation and culture. To understand it is dangerous, the knowledge its self is dangerous and hard to come by and merely knowing can be corrupting. But it is impossible to live in the world and not know something of the horrors of the Z'bri.

The Z'bri can be grouped into four distinct factions - each with their own outlook on how to touch The Seed. Each has its own traditions and organisations. Each has its own power bases and politics and methodologies. All of them would see humanity returned to the camps once more.

The head of the Z'bri is called The Baron - A Sanguis, he rules over the Princes that lead each of the four houses detailed below. Beneath the Princes are arrayed a variety of different ranks depending on house and beneath them a number of so called Iv'chets (Z'bri but not so high ranking to deserve any other title). But beneath all of these are the human serfs - slaves to the Z'bri and used as both a means to touch the seed and as a currency to show ones status within the Houses either by number owned or used as gifts to others. In total, the Z'bri still hold many tens of thousands of serfs in their thrall.

  • The Sanguis are elegand and alluring yet utterly alien and thrive on exquisite pain.
  • The Koleris are warriors, honed for death and destruction.
  • The Flemis are one with one another, a great hive mind of one flesh yet many bodies.
  • The Melanis, looking deceptively frail and delicate, seek the truth hidden within creation.


When contact with the seed was cut off from the Z'bri it was the Sanguis who best were able to adapt to their new state of being. They searched for the seed in many places and found it at last in the indulgence of the flesh, gaining pleasure from another's pain. They are the most adapted to being trapped within the flesh and have made an art-form of torture and distortion, of twisting the bodies of those beneath them, hearing them writhe and scream in pain. That is perhaps the defining feature of the Sanguis over the other factions - they are connoisseurs of agony, always looking for a new technique or new toy, or new game to play with those they lord over while at the same time trying to maintain their place in court or advance it, while bringing down their adversaries. While their own pain could be called pleasureable, it is the pain and suffering of others that they most indulge in for their brief tastes of the seed - most often their own serfs and captured prisoners from elsewhere.

They would dearly like to see the Tribes brought back into the Camps, the Fatima's destroyed, but they play the long game and sometimes politics necessitates strange bedfellows - Magdalite diplomats most often end up in the courts of the Sanguis and tribals have been known to return from the company of the Sanguis however none depart unscathed one way or another.

They are perhaps the most political of the Z'bri factions - both internally constantly striving for power and position within their feudal hierarchy, but also between the factions competing with the other three for the Baron's attentions. The current Prince is a Z'bri by the name of Fa'Cul and relations between him and the Baron are strained to say the least. Beneath him are the Lords:

  • Knights are the most military of the Sanguis and often ride out to battle with the Koleris when needed.
  • Dukes rule over small serf hamlets although it's noteable amongst the Sanguis that there are a disproportional number of Dukes, several without lands of their own - merely the title, given as gifts by the Baron to his former house and undoubtedly part of some political power play.
  • Counts are like Dukes but are part of the Prince's personal entourage.
  • Beneath them of course are the Iv'chets
  • Below them all the human serfs that belong to them.


By contrast the Koleris are the least at ease in the Flesh and find it the most constricting. They revelled in times past at the ability to leap from body to body, killing and dying and experiencing it all before moving onto new flesh to do it all again. Then when the fold was closed they lost that freedom and it is maddening to them, for now only the most powerful of their number can move them to a new form when their body fails.

The Koleris are always at the brink of frenzy, the desire and lust for blood and destruction and death. The rending of flesh, any flesh, is their elixir but no matter how much they kill, how much they fight, they are never sated. Should they lose control, they fall to being chained to their baser instincts, no longer considered Koleris but instead Prey.

To keep any form of control, they organise themselves into highly structured packs, or Orders, and maintain a strict observance to tradition and hierarchy. A subourdinate is expected to show respect to an superior by giving them a blood wound - allowing them a brief taste of the seed while denying it to those who can merely watch and not experience. Should the subourdinate be granted one in return this is seen as a great honour. The Codes of behaviour between the packs show a great deal of complexity and prevent the roaving bands from tearing one another apart in the slaughter fields that surround the base of the Ziggurat and H'l Kar where the rest of the Z'bri are concentrated. The serfs belonging to the Koleris represent power (the more you have, the higher standing you are) but they also are a way to sate the hunger when it becomes too great to control - most often to wound, but sometimes to kill if you are prepared to lose the thing that shows your standing.

Though all Orders have slightly differing sets of traditions there are three tenets that all Koleris hold to:

  • Forsake no Oaths
  • Respect and obey the mighty
  • Let no blood go unspilled

The Baron in times past kept the Koleris happy by gifting them hunts upon the slaughter fields - prisoners, serfs and the occasional Chained Z'bri - but these gifts have been growing less of late and the Koleris bay for the blood of the Tribals so close to them to the south. More than any other House, the Koheris would see the Tribals and the Fatima's torn to pieces, shredded in agony, for their role in the Liberation and the continual torment their close proximity represents.

  • The Koleris are divided into Orders underneath the Prince. The current Prince is K'ark'oom
  • Each Order has its place within the House as a whole - some being more important than others.
  • Each Order is headed by a Captain who reports back to the Prince of the House.
  • Each Captain commands a number of prides made up of Iv'chet.
  • Each pride is led by a Lord and everyone within the pride knows exactly their station with respect to everyone else.
  • The more serfs a pride has, the more important and higher status they are.


To be an individual is to be alone, to be weak. To be free is to be less. To be bound together is to be strong and whole.

The Flemis have a thousand souls and a thousand bodies, each woven together, entwined and forever merged. The minds ebb and flow, with thoughts and opinions becoming more or less dominant or focused on different things at different times but the grand whole of Flemis existence is one of unity. They are connected to one another even across great distances and when you meet one, you meet them all. They are a juggernaut of thought finding the seed in the shared flesh of each other - forever desiring more, to be one with all they can, to better encompass that which they lost.

The idea of hierachy is an odd one to the Flemis and unlike the other houses, the Flemis instead have roles for which they are most suited but all within the grand collective.

  • The Flemis Architects are the great builders of the Z'bri. The ziggurats and citadels of flesh are of their making. It is in the architecture that you can see occasional glimmers of individuality against the backdrop of the broad direction of the collective.
  • The Messengers of the Flemis must travel far from the main bulk of the Flemis for extended periods of time and this distance can breed individuality. Their roles are many and varied, from actual messengers between Z'bri houses to courtiers or soldiers. Due to the increased possibility of individuality, these Messengers are often reabsorbed by the collective to return them safely to the fold and prevent their leaving.
  • The Breeders are responsible for the continued health of the serf stock, that they multiply, work and are butchered as necessary. Despite the unanimity of the collective, it is the Breeders who are most looked down upon as they have the least spark of individuality with which to assert themselves.


The Melanis have an overwhelming desire to understand the world around them. To look at creation and from its study find a connection back to the seed. To look and find an answer to the closing of the Fold. They are creators of constructs and devices most sought after by the other houses, they search for the spiritual answers to the Z'bri's desires, they have mastered the art of chaining and unchaining one creature to another and they keep their secrets determined to hoard the knowledge they find.

Although not as political as the Sanguis, the Melanis are adept at their own form of plotting and scheming - exchanging favours and promises of future help that could be called in at any time. They experiment in the depths of their citadels, mostly with serfs and prisoners, but sometimes with other Z'bri, looking to find the Seed in them, exploring every avenue of suffering and pain they can inflict upon their experimental subjects. It is their obsession. Searching for perfection.

Through their experimentation the Melanis are adept at crafting flesh into other items of use. From adjusting serfs physically to better suit their roles for their masters to creating great machines of bone and sinew and blood. Their work is prized by all Z'bri. It is the Melanis who first mastered how to imprison another Z'bri - the process known as Chaining binds a Z'bri to an animal, both broken before the work begins, the end result a beast with animal cunning and the power of a Z'bri but tempered by neither. It is this ability that has set the Melanis apart from the others and it is thought that the Baron used their powers extensively in his rise to power after the death of Tibor.

The Melanis are organised into Monasitc Orders, each of which approaches their search for the truth with a different philosophy and different path to enlightenment. Within each order competition is fierce to be recognised as the most accomplished. Recognition is based upon achievement and it is not uncommon for promising work of an Initiate to be stolen by a master and claimed as their own in order to gain prestige within the Order.

  • The current Prince is Vl'Dus - a Melanis who is known for his desire to see the House regain its former glory and move out of the shadows
  • The Council of Deacons is equal nearly in power to the prince and is made up of the heads of the Orders and many Melanis Mystics. They are more conservative in their ways then the current Prince.
  • There are three Great Orders - The Bek'rx (Architects of Pain who search for the seed in the meeting of body and spirit that pain can bring), the V'hen (finders of secrets, they move unseen and search to codify creation) and the Qh'far (Warrior monks loyal to the Melanis house as a whole, not the prince as an individual).
  • Each Great Order has many lesser orders within it.
  • Unaligned with any order, Counts and Princes serve under the Prince and act as Generals, seneschals and warriors.
  • Beneath all the leaders are the remaining Iv'chet, serving their masters.
  • Beneath them all are the serfs.

The Exceptions and The Others

While the main four houses have been described there are always exceptions to every rule.

  • The Gek'roh are chained and rogue Z'bri, unaligned to any house. All were created by Melanis powers, two creatures forever bound together in screaming agony. Many stalk the lands around the Tribes and some have been spotted that hunt with a ferocity and intelligence that suggests they are acting on more than just animal instinct.
  • The sky realms are within Bazaar its self - in the tall ruined buildings that seem to touch the sky its self. The Z'bri who reside there call themselves the Joh'an and are all exiles from Z'bri culture - a mix of victims of schemes and renegades from the current order, most are content to entertain themselves with petty diversions and observing the Tribals beneath them. Others however plot their return to H'l Kar by any means necessary. Some Tribals dare to interact with the Joh'an, trading for secrets and items only the Z'bri can obtain, but to do so courts danger of disgrace and contamination and subsequent banishment.
  • Hunters are Z'bri who have seen the horror in their own kind and abandoned it. More than just becoming outcast however they see it as their duty to bring down their kin and stop them from their folly. The Hunters have little time for the tribes and their Fatima's but it is rumoured that they see the passion in the Fallen that is worth encouraging.


Taint comes from contact with the Z'bri can show in a number of ways depending on how serious it is - there are degrees of severity on a sliding scale.
Really mild taint might merely be by association with the Z'bri and have no metaphyical effect (e.g. you might be ok but the tribes think you were in contact with the Z'bri for just a bit too long and don't want to run the risk and chuck you out).
It might show up as an aura in the area around you (the area you're in feels oppressive perhaps or everyone feels a bit on edge) that would take synthesis to track down to a specific person or it might be that someone starts to feel odd if they talk to you for too long. It might be blatantly obvious in that you're all physically messed up in unnatural ways (three ears for example or twisted in other ways). It might be more metaphysical taint of the soul that might show up if anyone did any synthesis on/with you or it might be mild enough that it would only show up if you were actively looking for it.

Certainly not everyone would be able to spot someone tainted and it's perfectly possible to go around Fallen Society with a degree of taint and not have everyone look at you funny from the outset. It's all a matter of degrees on the spectrum of taint. You might be able to hide it with shadow or mystery synthesis (or other depending) but again, it would depend on the exact situation, manifestation and how serious the taint was.

'Curing' taint is an interesting concept as severity is to some degree in the eye of the beholder. There is no fixed 'cleanse taint' ability but many abilities could be used to try and remove taint depending on its severity. It also depends on exactly how bad the taint was and who perceives it. Officially the Tribes tend to think it can't be removed (hence Banishment for most people considered Tainted and it being impossible to return home after becoming a Magdalite Diplomat to the Z'bri) but mileage may vary and many Fallen tend to be more accepting of this kind of thing due to their circumstances.

For example you might consider someone who was held captive by the Z'bri for just a day or two to be tainted even if there was no obvious metaphysical effect but you might be happy hanging around them if they'd cleansed themselves with various rituals or using some form of synthesis (note that there's not so much a 'cleanse taint' synthesis power but thematically you could use various themes supported by synthesis to do the job). Equally you might not be happy ever hanging around them.

Equally you could try and remove taint by fixing the damage done either mentally or physically to a person. In the worst cases there is a metaphysical influence of the Z'bri over the person and that can be weakened/removed using synthesis/rituals etc. as seemed most fitting for the exact situation. However there's no guarantee that it'll work completely. Even if an influence is removed, the person may still consider themselves tainted and unfixable even if they've no longer got two faces or the whispers of a Z'bri in their ears.

The response to being tainted yourself also varies widely. The idea that 'They've ruined me and now I'm going to go down by killing as many of them as I can in the process' is very much the view of some but others just want to go on living their lives as best they can. Taint is not like a progressive disease. A 'mild taint' is not going to get worse on its own and will only get worse if the individual or a Z'bri do something else to make it worse (e.g. being captured again by a Z'bri or giving into urges/ideas that a Z'bri put into your mind).

Photo by Tom Garnett

the_zbri.txt · Last modified: 2015/03/08 20:52 by ellie
Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license: CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported